Yola (singer)

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Yola in 2019
Yola in 2019
Background information
Birth nameYolanda Claire Quartey[1]
Born (1983-07-31) 31 July 1983 (age 39)
Bristol, England
LabelsEasy Eye Sound

Yolanda Claire Quartey (born 31 July 1983),[2] known professionally as Yola or Yola Carter, is an English singer-songwriter, musician, and actress. Her debut studio album Walk Through Fire (2019) received critical acclaim and earned her four Grammy Award nominations, including Best New Artist. Her follow-up, Stand for Myself (2021), received similar acclaim and earned her two more Grammy nominations. Yola made her acting debut in 2022, portraying "godmother of rock n roll" Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrman’s biopic Elvis.

Early and personal life[edit]

Yola was born to a Ghanaian father and a Barbadian mother in Bristol, England.[3] Her family tried to discourage her from music at a young age, as they thought it was an unrealistic career option.[4][5] When Yola was just under 2 her father left her and her mother behind.[6] A single parent struggling to stay afloat, her mother was against Yola's dream to be a singer. It wasn't until Yola went to grammar school she had her first taste of freedom and started to pursue music. She later went to university in London and used her student loan to stay afloat while making music. She ended up becoming a university drop out and was evicted due to being unable to pay her rent. Yola was homeless for six months in her 20s and spent a week begging on the streets before getting enough money to travel back to Bristol.[7]


Under her given name Yolanda Quartey, Yola first gained notice as a member of the Bristol band Phantom Limb, of which she was a member from 2005 to 2012. That band released two albums.[8] Yola has also performed as a guest vocalist and occasional songwriter for British musical acts like Sub Focus,[9] Massive Attack,[10] Bugz in the Attic,[11] Ginger Wildheart,[12] and Duke Dumont.[13]

Yola decided to launch a solo career after the death of her mother in 2013. She released her first solo EP, Orphan Offering, in 2016. In February 2019, she released her debut album Walk Through Fire on Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound label, to much acclaim.[2][14][15] The album title references a fire which damaged Yola's home and she escaped.[16] AllMusic called the album "an extraordinary record, one designed to be part of a grand musical tradition, and it contains enough emotion and imagination to earn its place within that lineage."[17] Brittney McKenna of NPR Music's First Listen declared, "It's the work of an artist sure to stun audiences for years to come."[18] The Wall Street Journal stated, "The album is an introduction to a seasoned, major vocalist that stands to be remembered as a breakthrough."[15]

Walk Through Fire was written, recorded and produced at Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Studio in Nashville. Auerbach produced the record and assembled an all-star cast for its creation.[19] Most of the songwriting was a collaboration of Yola and Auerbach with contributions from Bobby Wood, Pat McLaughlin and Dan Penn. The team of studio musicians included bassist Dave Roe, harmonica player Charlie McCoy along with former members of the Memphis Boys drummer Gene Crisman and Wood on piano. Additional vocals were contributed by Vince Gill, Molly Tuttle, Ronnie McCoury and Stuart Duncan.[18] The album was recorded and engineered by M. Allen Parker. Auerbach and Parker also mixed the project.[20] In March 2019, Yola made her American television debut on CBS This Morning's Saturday Sessions segment, where she played selections from Walk Through Fire.[21] She, alongside Sheryl Crow, contributed to two tracks on the debut album by The Highwomen.

Yola made a splash at the Newport Folk Festival 2019 with Rolling Stone proclaiming, "Yola became the single most sought-after voice at this year's festival. She played a triumphant side-stage show, served as an unofficial member of The Highwomen, and added her own vocals to performances by everyone from Dolly Parton to Dawes, who let the fast-rising singer take over for the entirety of their 2009 song "When You Call My Name."[22] According to Glide Magazine, "People came from far and wide to hear Yola sing, either because they were enchanted by her excellent release from earlier this year Walk Through Fire, or because word of mouth had reached them that this was not to be missed."[23]

Walk Through Fire generated three Grammy Award nominations. The album was nominated for Best Americana Album and the track "Faraway Look" was nominated for Best American Roots Song and Best American Roots Performance. Additionally, Yola was nominated for Best New Artist.[24]

In February 2020, Variety announced that she had been cast to portray Sister Rosetta Tharpe — "dubbed the Godmother of rock and roll" — in Australian director Baz Luhrmanns film Elvis on the life of Elvis Presley set for release in 2022.[25] In December 2020, she was featured in Ringo Starr's single and video "Here's To The Nights", from his 2021 Zoom In EP.

In July 2021, Yola released her latest album titled Stand for Myself.[26] To celebrate the launch of the album, Yola commenced her 2022 Stand For Myself Tour in Boston in February 2022, with opening performances by Jac Ross and Nick Connors; and in Nashville by Devon Gilfillian and Allison Russell.[27] On October 8th, 2021, Yola opened at Madison Square Garden for Chris Stapleton.[28]


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions and album details
Title Details Peak chart positions





Walk Through Fire 83 1 1 25 14
Stand for Myself
  • Released: 30 July 2021
  • Label: Easy Eye Sound, Concord
  • Format: LP, CD, cassette, 8-track, digital download, streaming
46 1 11 196 6 2 39

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
Orphan Offering
  • Released: 1 November 2016
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD, digital download, streaming
Apple Music Home Session: Yola
  • Released: 15 October 2021
  • Label: Easy Eye Sound, Concord
  • Format: Streaming


As lead artist[edit]

Title Year Peak

"I Don't Wanna Lie" 2019 35 Walk Through Fire
"Hold On"
(with The Highwomen featuring Sheryl Crow)
2020 Non-album single
"Give the People What They Want"
(with PJ Morton)
"Diamond Studded Shoes" 2021 21 Stand for Myself
"Stand for Myself"

As featured artist[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Highwomen" 2019 The Highwomen
"Stop Crying Your Heart Out"
(as BBC Radio 2's Allstars)[38]
2020 7 Non-album single

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Award Nominated work Result Ref.
2017 UK Americana Awards UK Artist of the Year Herself Won
2019 Americana Music Honors & Awards Emerging Artist of the Year Nominated [39]
Album of the Year Walk Through Fire Nominated
2020 62nd Grammy Awards Best New Artist Herself Nominated
Best Americana Album Walk Through Fire Nominated
Best American Roots Performance "Faraway Look" Nominated
Best American Roots Song Nominated
Americana Music Honors & Awards Artist of the Year Herself Nominated [40]
UK Americana Awards UK Artist of the Year Herself Won
UK Album of the Year Walk Through Fire Won
2021 Country Music Association Awards International Achievement Award Herself Nominated
2022 64th Grammy Awards Best Americana Album Stand for Myself Nominated [41]
Best American Roots Song "Diamond Studded Shoes" Nominated
UK Americana Awards UK Artist of the Year Herself Won
UK Album of the Year Stand for Myself Won
Americana Music Honors & Awards Album of the Year Pending [42]
Artist of the Year Yola Pending
Song of the Year "Diamond Studded Shoes" Pending


  1. ^ "Behind a 'Best New Artist' Nod: Yola's 20 Years of Experience". The New York Times. 22 January 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b Bernstein, Jonathan (19 January 2019). "Yola's Fight for Roots-Rock Freedom". Rolling Stone.
  3. ^ "Yola: From down and out in London to Nashville's country soul star | Music | the Guardian".
  4. ^ "Grammy nominee's mum 'banned her from music'". Bbc.co.uk. 21 November 2019.
  5. ^ "Yola's Vocals and Songwriting Are Showcased on Her Strong Debut 'Walk Through Fire'". Popmatters.com. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Yola on her journey from homelessness and poverty to writing an album with Dan Auerbach". Guitar.com | All Things Guitar. 11 July 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Yola on The Adam Buxton Podcast". The Adam Buxton Podcast. 19 June 2022. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  8. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (19 January 2019). "Yola's Fight for Roots-Rock Freedom". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  9. ^ Pareles, Jon (22 January 2020). "Behind a 'Best New Artist' Nod: Yola's 20 Years of Experience". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Yola's Journey From the Darkness of Massive Attack to Her Harmonious Debut". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  11. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (25 July 2021). "After Two Decades in Music, Yola Expands Her Powers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  12. ^ Williams, Kathryn (4 June 2019). "Who is supporting The Killers at Cardiff Castle?". WalesOnline. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  13. ^ "Yola: From 'house screamer' to four-time Grammy nominee". BBC News. 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  14. ^ John, Emma (21 February 2019). "Yola: from down and out in London to Nashville's country soul star". The Guardian.
  15. ^ a b Mazor, Barry (25 February 2019). "'Walk Through Fire' by Yola Review: Across the Great Divide". The Wall Street Journal.
  16. ^ McKenna, Brittney (14 February 2019). "On Her Mighty Debut, Yola Pushes Through To 'Walk Through Fire'". Npr.org. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Walk Through Fire – Yola – Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  18. ^ a b McKenna, Brittney (14 February 2019). "On Her Mighty Debut, Yola Pushes Through To 'Walk Through Fire'". Npr.org.
  19. ^ Liptak, Carena. "Story Behind the Song: Yola, 'Ride Out in the Country'". The Boot.
  21. ^ Kaplan, Ilana (23 March 2019). "Watch Yola Showcase Debut LP on 'CBS This Morning'". Rolling Stone.
  22. ^ Jonathan Bernstein; Suzy Exposito (29 July 2019). "Newport Folk Festival 2019: 10 Best Things We Saw". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". glidemagazine.com. Archived from the original on 1 October 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "2020 GRAMMY Awards: Complete Winners List". Grammy.com. 20 November 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  25. ^ Kroll, Justin (21 February 2020). "Yola to Play Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann's 'Elvis' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  26. ^ Magazine, Guitar Girl (22 April 2021). "Yola announces release of new album 'Stand For Myself' and debuts video for single "Diamond Studded Shoes" - Guitar Girl Magazine". Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  27. ^ "Yola Announces 2022 'Stand For Myself' U.S. Headlining Tour". L4LM. 10 August 2021. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  28. ^ "Chris Stapleton played Madison Square Garden w/ Marcus King Band & Yola (pics, setlist)". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 14 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Official Albums Chart Country Artists Albums Top 50 - 5 April 2019". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Yola Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  34. ^ "Yola Chart History (Americana/Folk Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  35. ^ "Yola Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  36. ^ "Yola Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  37. ^ "Yola - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  38. ^ "All-star BBC Children in Need charity single announced". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  39. ^ Freeman, Jon (14 May 2019). "Americana Awards Nominations 2019: Women Lead the Way". Rolling Stone.
  40. ^ "Americana Music Awards - 2020". Retrieved 30 January 2022.
  41. ^ "2022 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Nominations List". Grammys.com. 23 November 2021. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  42. ^ "JUST IN: Yola, Brandi Carlile and Allison Russell Lead 2022 Americana Honors & Awards Nominees". The Boot.

External links[edit]